Copycat Recipes – Famous Mains!

So it was kinda hard to choose which mains to find recipes for. I actually googled, “Most Popular Restaurant Dishes” to see what would come up, and low and behold, I got a few of the beauties below. I did go for some Canadian flavour though, and threw in Swiss Chalet’s famous rotisserie chicken and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, not a kosher issue (other than, you know, the establishment itself not being kosher). I hope you all enjoy!


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp“Bonefish Grill” Bang Bang “Shrimp”

So with this recipe, the only real change is the obvious, using imitation “shrimp” instead of the real McCoy. Other than that, this recipe is pretty kosher friendly!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
2 cups buttermilk*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds imitation “shrimp”

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

* Don’t have buttermilk? Check out my cheat tips here.

Directions:
To make the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a small bowl and then set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and hot sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and set this aside as well.

In a large bowl, combine the panko, onion and garlic powders, basil, oregano, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dip a “shrimp” into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Working in batches, add the “shrimp” to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sweet chili sauce.


“Cheesecake Factory” Louisiana Chicken PastaCheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta

So with this recipe, there were quite a bit of changes needed, as there was a lot mixing of dairy and meat in this recipe. I think I’ve found a happy balance, omitting somethings, and substituting others. I hope you agree!

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup non-dairy milk

For the Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
¾ small red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups non-dairy creamer
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced*
1 (12 ounce) packages bow tie pasta
salt, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.

Directions:
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to the skillet, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the non-dairy creamer, as well as the chicken stock, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the basil, stirring to incorporate, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken.

For the chicken, pound the chicken breasts until they are very thin (the thinner the better). Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and flour. Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then in the milk and then back in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan set to medium-high heat, and fry the chicken until golden crisp and cooked through. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper-lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Once done, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce that has been reducing and toss the pasta to coat. To plate, dish up a healthy portion of the pasta, and top with a golden piece of chicken and the remaining basil.


PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps“P.F. Chang’s” Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s amazing about this recipe is that I didn’t need to change a thing! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water chestnuts, minced
2 cups mushroom, minced
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
12-15 iceberg lettuce leaves*

Special Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
⅜ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons hot water
1-2 tablespoons garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce:

Directions:
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.  Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

In a wok or large frying pan, bring the oil to a high heat. Sauté the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as small as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil (to the oil that was left over from cooking the chicken). Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the hot pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan, and sauté the mixture for a couple minutes then serve in the lettuce leaves with the special sauce.


“Swiss Chalet” Rotisserie ChickenSwiss Chalet Chicken and Dipping Sauce

As a Canadian, how can you not want just a bite of that beautifully, crispy, spinning rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken? Well, it turns out, making it kosher isn’t that hard! In fact, I didn’t have to change a thing! Keep in mind though, that unless you have a rotisserie feature on your oven/bbq, it will not come out exactly the same as the commercials.

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dehydrated tomato soup mix
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon dried savoury
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into a whole chicken. Place the chicken in the bag and let it marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Cook the chicken in a rotisserie oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.

“Swiss Chalet” Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups water
¼ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
6 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
In a saucepan, add the water, tomato juice and all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon juice, cornstarch, final 1 tablespoon water and vegetable oil. Using a whisk, stir the sauce thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water into a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the sauce. While still whisking, add the oil to the sauce. Continue to whisk the sauce while it cooks for a few more minutes and it will thicken up. This will make 3 cups of sauce.

Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.

While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.

As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.

I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sauce:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.

Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Dill

Salmon Dill Pasta

Hi everyone! I realize that it’s been a long time since I last posted, but I need to get back on that horse! Here is a quick recipe that I’ve been making lately. It’s a dairy pasta dish, so it’s rich and comforting, but the fresh dill and lemon zest keep it from being too heavy. You can also switch up the fresh salmon for canned or for a twist, use smoked salmon instead! This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

12 ounces uncooked linguine pasta (or any other pasta of choice)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds of fresh or frozen (defrosted) salmon, cubed
¾ cup cream cheese
¾ cup fresh dill, chopped finely*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest**
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to properly check fresh dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is done, drain it, saving the water to add to the sauce.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high temperature. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, shallots and garlic. Toss to coat in the oil and season with salt and fresh pepper. Allow to cook, softening and getting some colour, but not turning completely brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions are mostly done, add the salmon to the pan, and again, toss to coat. Let the fish and onions sit for a minute or two, to allow the salmon to begin to cook. Add the cream cheese to the pan, and move it around the pan, so that the heat begins to melt the cheese. At this point, add some of the pasta water to the pan to mix with the melting cream cheese and make a sauce. Add as much water as you feel necessary to get the consistency that you like. Once the cheese has completely been thinned out, add the dill and mix to combine.

In a large mixing or serving bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and then sprinkle with the lemon zest and additional dill, salt and pepper, to taste.

 

One-Pot Creamy Southwest Pasta

Creamy Southwest Pasta

Okay for the last slot in our tour of one-pot pasta meals, we’re heading to the Southwest for this rich and creamy pasta. You can adjust the heat level on this dish by upping or leaving the jalapenos out all together. As is, this dish will serve 6-8 people, but if you want you can switch it up by leaving out the cheese and adding cooked chicken pieces to the dish. No matter how you make it though, it will be delicious! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (454g) box of rotini (or any pasta you like)
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 medium green bell pepper cut into thin strips
½ medium red onion, sliced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup sliced pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (540ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup cilantro, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles and the rest of the ingredients except for the beans, goat cheese and cilantro. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all of the contents.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 12-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente. There should be ¼ to ½ an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot when it’s done.

Remove the pasta from heat, and stir in the beans and goat cheese. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes to give the beans a chance to warm up, and the cheese to melt, absorbing any excess liquid. Serve hot, garnished with the chopped cilantro.

One-Pot Thai Pasta

Thai Pasta

Love Thai food, but hate takeout? Or maybe you don’t have Thai takeout in your area? Here’s the fix for that my friends! This easy one-pot Thai pasta will serve six and cook up quickly! Wanna add some protein to the mix? Heat up some left over chicken or fish, and toss with the pasta before serving. Just note though that if you do add chicken to this dish to read up on the use of Worcestershire Sauce and meat by clicking this link. This dish will serve at least 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box dry fettuccine or other long noodle
6 ¾ cups vegetable broth
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 ½ red bell peppers, julienned
6 green onions, sliced thinly*
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger**
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass paste or minced*
¾ teaspoon fresh chili paste, like Sriracha (to taste)
¾ teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ – 1 lime, juiced
crushed peanuts, for garnish
chopped cilantro , for garnish*
sesame seeds, for garnish

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions, lemongrass and cilantro.
** Click here for tips on peeling ginger and using Worcestershire sauce.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice, peanuts, cilantro and sesame seeds. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all the contents.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

After this time, the noodles should be al dente. Uncover and allow to cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until there’s only about ½ inch of sauce on the bottom (or however much sauce you prefer). Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Serve hot and garnished with a liberal amount of crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.

One Pot Pasta Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas & Artichokes

alla-puttanesca

So this spicy, red pasta dish is a favourite for those that like spicy, briny, salty dishes. While the meaning of the name can denote different things, depending on which part of Italy you come from, in the end it is a delicious, hearty meal that is sure to please. While some recipes call for the use of anchovies, this recipe, in its one-pot format, does not. It also does not call for cheese, however a sprinkling of parmesan over top at the end is always a hit in my book.

Two items to note in this recipe for 6, the artichokes and the amount of broth needed. There is great debate over the use of artichoke bottoms or hearts in the kosher community. Some lucky cooks can find canned artichokes with reputable hechshers, but for the rest of us, I find using the bottoms found in the frozen section a good substitute. With regards to the type of pasta used, you may find that you have to add more broth when using whole wheat compared to regular pasta. I say start with the lower amount, and as it’s cooking, you can add more if needed. Please note though if you add more broth, make sure it’s hot, so that it doesn’t delay the cooking time of the rest of the dish.

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box whole wheat or regular long noodle pasta
½ – 1 cup sliced black olives, such as Kalamata
1 ½ bags frozen artichoke bottoms, mostly defrosted and chopped (total amount of 21 ounces)
¾ (540ml) can canned chickpeas, low sodium
3 tablespoons capers
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce to ¼ teaspoon if sensitive to heat)
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper (reduce to 1/3 teaspoon if freshly ground)
4 ½ – 6 cups vegetable broth (you may need to add more broth depending on what type of pasta you use)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients, pouring the broth over everything last. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole dish.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 8-10 more minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

If you find that there is a bit too much liquid in your dish, let the pasta sit for a little bit off the heat, and the pasta will absorb the excess liquid. If you have leftovers, I suggest tossing them with a little olive oil before storing in the fridge.

One-Pot Pasta Primavera

One Pot Pasta Primavera

This creamy, saucy pasta overflows with spring green veggies and cooks up in a single pot! You can definitely play up which veggies you use in this dish, just remember some might have longer cooking times, so you’d want to par cook them first, by either boiling them a bit first on their own or nuking them in the microwave for a minute or two before adding with the rest of the vegetables. To see what is fresh and in season, you can check out your local food guides. Here is a link to the availability guide in Ontario, showing you which fruits and vegetables are freshest each month. This dish will serve at least 6 people, so enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
12 ounces linguine, uncooked
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
1 ½ pounds broccoli, cut into large florets (about 3 cups)*§
2 ¼ pounds asparagus, ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces*
6 ounces sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 ½ cups)*
6 large cloves garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less for milder heat; more to increase heat)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ cups frozen peas
1 medium handful fresh parsley, chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)*
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest**
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Additional Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.
§ If you are using frozen broccoli florets for this dish, then add them about halfway through your 7 minute “tossing” window, instead of at the beginning (see directions below).

Note: If you want to make this pasta dish non-dairy, you can substitute the heavy whipping cream with non-dairy creamer and leave out the parmesan.

Directions:

Add the broth, pasta, onion, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a large pot set over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.

As soon as it comes to a boil, set the timer for 7 minutes and start tossing with long-handled tongs. Continue boiling and tossing it every minute or so (You’re doing this so that they noodles do not stick and clump together). As soon as the 7 minutes is up, add the peas, parsley, heavy whipping cream, Parmesan, and lemon zest and continue cooking, tossing constantly, for 1-2 more minutes, until the pasta and veggies appear tender. Remove from heat.

Note that much of the liquid will have evaporated, but not all. And that’s okay! Let the pasta sit for a couple of minutes to cool; the sauce will continue to thicken during that time. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

Linguine with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Brie

Pasta with Roasted Peppers, Sundried Tomatoes and Brie

So for the past 10 days, my home was filled to the brim with guests. While it was a good thing, and for a good occasion, all of that cooking, cleaning and preparing to host a plethora of people takes a lot out of a person. My mother gets the credit for the mitzvah (good deed) as it was her house and she is definitely the hostess with the mostess. Now that it’s all over though, the thought of cooking is enough for me to go on a starvation diet. My stomach however does not agree. So what to do? How about a delicious one-pot pasta meal that takes almost no time to make, and is good to the last slurp? So, with that in mind, this week is going to be one-pot pasta week. Recipes that are all made in one pot, in one go. Easy to cook, easy to clean. Today’s recipe will hit all the right notes with rich and creamy brie, the smokey tartness of roasted red peppers, and the earthy richness of sundried tomatoes. This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

500g box of linguine, broken in half
1 ½ cups packed basil leaves*
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped roasted red peppers**
¾ cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 to 5 large garlic cloves, pressed
6 ¾ cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth***
3 tablespoons oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (or regular olive oil)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
340g brie cheese, rind removed and cut into pieces
grated parmesan, for serving
good-quality olive oil, for serving

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.
** Click here to get a great easy recipe for roasted red peppers.
*** If you are using broth instead of water, make sure to get the low-sodium version, as there is already a lot of salt in this recipe and with the tomatoes. If you cannot find low-sodium, then reduce the amount of salt added in the recipe, and use olive oil, rather than the oil from the jar of tomatoes.

Directions:

Combine linguine, basil, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic in a large pot. Add the water/broth, sundried tomato oil/olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and a generous amount of black pepper and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat.

Using tongs, stir and turn the pasta frequently to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, approximately 9 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. (If there is still a little bit of cooking water, pour some — but not all — into a separate bowl.)

Add the brie and toss with tongs until creamy and melted. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. The sauce will naturally thicken up after a couple of minutes. Serve with grated parmesan and a swirl of good olive oil. (If the pasta does seem to need liquid, add back a few splashes of reserved cooking liquid.)

Greek Orzo Salad

Greek Orzo SaladSo to end off pasta salad week, I thought I’d do one of my favourites. I love the tang of the olives, feta and artichokes, along with the kick of briney heat from the pepperonicini! For those of you that don’t like heat, you can reduce or even eliminate the use of the pickled peppers. For those that want a little bit more heat running through the salad, and not just on the bites that have bits of pepper, try adding some of the brine from the peppers to the dressing, swapping out for some of the vinegar. This is another salad, like most pasta salads, that gets better with time. This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 (6 ounce) cans artichoke bottoms, drained and roughly chopped*
2 tomatoes, diced (or about 20 cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 large English cucumber, diced
1 green pepper, diced
½-1 red onion, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata, roughly chopped
3-4 pepperoncini, sliced thin (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
salt to taste (if needed)

* Click here to learn about artichokes and parsley.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add Orzo and cook for 8 – 10 minutes (or according to box instructions); drain.

In a large bowl combine the orzo, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, feta, olives, pepperoncini and parsley. Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator and then serve.

If you are preparing the salad a day ahead, do as detailed above, but leave out the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and feta, adding these ingredients right before serving, so they don’t become soggy.

Israeli Couscous Salad

Couscous SaladSo I first had a version of this salad at a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. The woman who made it was one of my favourite Rebbitzens growing up, Mrs. Dassi Smolarcik. Subsequently, she and her family moved to Miami, (my Rebbitzen, not my sister-in-law…. my s-i-l moved to Savannah!), but what is Canada’s loss is Florida’s gain. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, but I’m sure Mrs. Smo will forgive me. I suggest making this for your next meal, dairy or meat, where you’d like a nice, light salad in the mix. This recipe will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4-5 radishes, sliced thin*
4-5 green onions, sliced thin*
1 can of corn kernels, drained
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine*
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped fine*

Dressing:

½ cup oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (more or less to taste)

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs and vegetables.

Instructions:

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package. Drain, and set aside to cool. Combine the cooled couscous, along with the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a small container and combine well, tasting for flavour. Once you are happy with it, pour it over the couscous salad and mix well to combine. This salad is best if let to sit covered in the refrigerator to marinate, preferably overnight. If you preparing it the day before, you may wish to leave the tomatoes out until about an hour before serving, so they don’t get soft.